Homage to a President, Chief Editor and Mentor

Taking over as President of EDEN after Alan Tait, is both a privilege and a daunting challenge. Alan established this blog when he was elected as President of EDEN at the annual conference in Naples in June 2007. His first entry was posted shortly after and during his presidency Alan published 20 interesting and well written blog contributions about the developments of EDEN along with his personal experiences and reflections from the field of distance education and e-learning. His blog is now moved to EDEN Past-President’s blog.

When I realized that it was my responsibility to continue Alan’s prolific blogging, I briefly considered engaging him or another professional blogger as a ghost writer or substituting the President’s blog with the President’s Tweets. Backed by Steve – the ghost writer – Wheeler, or limited by 140 characters per tweet, I realized that I could become as productive as Alan.

Joking aside, Alan has an impressive EDEN track record. He has been on the EDEN Executive Committee (EC) for six years and the president for the three years I have been on the EC. As the incoming president, and on behalf of his EC, I would like to say that Alan has led our work in a very stimulating, open, constructive and friendly way. So, at our EC meeting in Valencia it was a pleasure and honor for us to give him a blue and gold metal plaque with the following inscription:


Alan was among the founding members of the Budapest Platform, the immediate predecessor organization of EDEN in 1990, and he actively supported the preparations leading to the launching of EDEN as a European association in 1991. When I searched my personal files, I found that Alan was one of the contributors to a DEOS newsletter which in November 1992 distributed an electronic version of the first printed EDEN Newsletter.

At that time, I was a doctoral student at Penn State University working at the American Center for Distance Education for EDEN Senior Fellow Michael G. Moore. There, I established DEOS – the Distance Education Online Symposium. Now, I find it really interesting to read this historic issue reporting from the first EDEN conference in Krakow. Regarding my high expectations for the newly established online NAP Members area it is useful to reflect on how Alan explained the aims and activities of the EDEN NAP when it was established nearly 20 years ago:


EDEN’s Academic and Professional Section held its inaugural meeting during the EDEN conference in Krakow. The Academic and Professional Section aims to provide a vehicle for the professional development of colleagues in open and distance learning across the whole of Europe. It will reflect the wide range of educational interest in education at both secondary and tertiary levels, in training and vocational development, in broadcasting, and in enterprises. It was agreed at the meeting in Krakow that the following range of activities would be appropriate:

• Conferences and seminars
• Staff exchanges and secondments
• Specialist grouping eg. research; management; student support,
• course writing; evaluation etc.

The ideas were generated by the 50 or so people present at the meeting, and it was resolved to work towards the first Academic and Professional Section Conference which will take place in Cambridge UK in September 1993.

The Academic and Professional Section of EDEN will complement EDEN’s main work. It will be open to all practitioners on the European regional basis. Those interested in finding out more about the Academic and Professional Section are invited to contact Ms Kerry Mann, Executive Secretary, EDEN.

From my perspective, with experience as editor of DEOS, I’m especially impressed by Alan’s long standing contribution as Editor of EURODL since it started in 1997. I was also pleased and thankful when he assured me that he would keep on as Chief Editor of EURODL. I’m also proud to remember that I initiated and enabled EURODL’s predecessor, ANDREA, which was established in September 1994. ANDREA is an acronym for A Network for Distance Education Reporting from European Activities, but I must admit that I struggled hard to come up with these words so that the newsletter could be named after my daughter. My mentor, EDEN Senior Fellow Torstein Rekkedal, was the editor of Andrea, and you can still read his first issue.

So, finally a warm and heartfelt thank you to Alan, we know that he will continue to support EDEN as a Senior Fellow and wish him all the best for the future.

Morten Flate Paulsen

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